Rita M. Yoder

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Dr. David L. Nelson

Second Advisor

Dr. Doris Smith

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The use of purposeful, goal-directed activity has traditionally been a central theme for occupational therapy. In dual-purpose activity the participant has two goals: successful task completion and the making of adaptive responses in the activity process. This study compares the extent to which a dual-purpose activity (stirring for the purpose of exercise and baking cookies) enhances performance in contrast to a single-purpose activity (stirring for the purpose of exercise alone) in an institutionalized geriatric population.

Thirty women between 70 and 92 years of age were randomly assigned to either the single- or dual-purpose activity. Duration, exertion, and discontinuities were measured and recorded. Mann-Whitney U tests revealed significant differences in favor of dual-purpose activity on the dependent variables duration and exertion. Statistical analysis on the discontinuities variable was not advisable due to low frequency of occurrence. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed.